Brit sounds hit JoburgPeter Feldman
Peter Feldman: The Old Mutual Theatre on the Square has taken the bold step of introducing a pop show, “London Live,” to its entertainment menu.
It has attempted to recreate the kind of easy-flowing vibe that the Barnyard Theatre group has managed to achieve, but in this instance it lacks the slickness and polish that a show of this nature demands.
The show has a loosely structured theme with a handful of different songs by different artists lumped together to give the audience an idea of what London was like during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and the present. There were some nice ideas here but they were not fully developed.
The backdrop has silhouette cut-outs of famous London landmarks.
The two artists, Kieran Rennie and Ashleigh Harvey, produce some banter between numbers, they tell a few jokes and interact with the audience – but there is no structure to this and the ad-libbing is sometimes juvenile.
On the musical front, there are many memory makers and the two artists get into the swing of things with a collection of wigs and numerous costume changes.
Rennie is a fine guitarist and shows his mettle on the instrument with some striking riffs, while Harvey works her way, through Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” Annie Lennox’s “Little Bird” and “Sweet Dreams,” Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” (which I liked) and Amy Winehouse’s potent “Valerie.” Her version of Sting’s “Roxanne” added a new dimension to the number.
Rennie also added his voice, veering from Tom Jones to Elton John to George Michael and providing interesting takes on Rod Stewart’s “Have I Told You Lately” and a slowed down version of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl.”
A show about British pop wouldn’t be the same without The Beatles and the Spice Girls and the two tackle their songs with some enthusiasm.
“London Live” may be a nostalgic trip for some, gathering by the screams and shouts from devoted friends in the audience, but it needs something fresh and radically different to raise the bar.
London Live is on at The Old Mutual Theatre on the Square until 17 November.
Feldman has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He writes regularly for Artslink.co.za, The Citizen, and The Sunday Independent. He also contributes movie reviews on Mondays to The Gordon Hoffman Easy Morning Show on 1485 Radio Today (www.1485.org.za) and has worked on TV in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988.
Auto & General Theatre on the Square., West Street Sandown Johannesburg Gauteng South Africa